Subject: Re: RFC: Simple screen editor for NetBSD
To: None <>
From: der Mouse <mouse@Rodents.Montreal.QC.CA>
List: current-users
Date: 01/07/2000 21:39:53
For what it may be worth, here's my take on the whole "add a simple
screen editor" debate.

Whom would this putative editor be for?  My first thought is that
anyone who needs it - who is unwilling or unable to learn to use vi or
ed - is going to *always* have trouble, and not just with text editing.
Such people are never going to be able to use anything very much like
UNIX; the closest they will get is using handholding interfaces that,
under the hood, rely on UNIXisms.

But that's not quite true; there is a place for it.  Novices who are
presently ignorant but have no problem with learning a "real" editor
still need to get their systems set up far enough to start on that
learning curve.

And that, I have some other thoughts on.

Time was, text editors - fairly sophisticated ones, including features
that today would be said to belong to word processors - ran on machines
that *couldn't* have more than 64K of RAM, often as little as 8K or
16K.  This leads to the question, what's changed?

Many things, of course.  But my point is, what reason is there the
technology couldn't be resurrected?  Assume ANSI X3.41/X3.64 in the
output device.  Provide no configurability.  Assume VT100-style arrow
key sequences.  That sort of thing.  If necessary, build it using a
couple of layers of pseudo-machinecode interpreter engines - done
right, such things make it possible to shrink programs to incredibly
small sizes.  (Of course, there's a penalty, usually speed; for these
purposes, speed is of little import.)

One person wrote

> [T]here are lots of people who would benefit from a simple, "normal"
> editor.  These people will NEVER learn vi because they normally use
> notepad on windoze.  If we don't provide them an easy-to-use editor,
> they just keep telling everyone how DIFFICULT unix is.

For them, it is, and will remain so.  The Notepad mentality will never
get along with the UNIX way.  I see three choices: (1) the users can
retrain themselves, to get along with the UNIX way; (2) the OS can
abandon the UNIX way and go with the point-and-drool GUI way; (3) such
users can use other OSes, whether from Microsoft or Red Hat or

Personally, I prefer (1), but recognize it just won't happen for a lot
of people, and I find (3) far more acceptable than (2).  (Perhaps
someone will even make available something suited to them that has
NetBSD under the hood.  I have no problem with this, but to me it seems
inappropriate for The NetBSD Project to be trying to provide it.  Try
to be all things to all people and you'll only end up spreading
yourself way too thin to be any good to anyone.)

Yes, we could add a "simple" editor.  But except for the novices I
alluded to above, it'd be just papering over one tiny piece of a very
large iceberg, to mix my metaphors.

"If you want Windows, you know where to find it."

					der Mouse

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